Lest We Forget
On the eleventh day of the eleventh month of each year, Canada honours those who sacrificed their lives in the field of battle for this great country. The entire nation, with the exception of Ontario and Quebec, recognizes Remembrance Day as a public holiday.
Although it is uncertain why these two provinces observe the day but do not recognize it as a holiday, we at Synergy Merchant Services, paid our respect to our fallen troops of wars past by conducting a moment of silence at 11:00am this morning.
Remembrance Day is also known as Poppy Day, Armistice Day and Veterans Day depending on where in the world you observe it. It commemorates both the members of the armed forces and civilians who have served and died in wars since the First World War. Today’s date was chosed for this observance as it marked the end of World War I in 1918.
In fact, as Wikipedia reveals, “major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice.”
All throughout the country today, ceremonies were held to honour our fallen soldiers. Today Prince Charles, who is recognized as being part of the Canadian Royal Family due to Canada’s inclusion in the Commonwealth, presided over the national ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
Often, the ceremony incorporates gun salutes and the tolling of bells at the Peace Tower. Of course, the vibrant red poppy has become synonymous with Remembrance Day in Canada. Usually a tradition that starts at the beginning of each November, many Canadians can be seen wearing felt-made poppies with black centres (formerly green) that are pinned to one’s shirt or jacket, usually over the area of the heart.
The poppies are of great significance because of the growth of these flowers in Flanders Fields. This was the generic name given to the battlefields of France in World War I. The area was made popular by the poem “In Flanders Fields”, in which Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae writes of the poppies growing there.
McCrae’s poem, written on May 3, 1915, was inspired by the death of his 22 year-old friend Lieutenant Alexis Helmer the day before. An exerpt:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
This unforgettable poem and the observance of Remembrance Day ensure that we never forget those who lost their lives to protect their nation.